The Yellow Sheep in Hollywood

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“And what qualifies you for this position?” asked the interviewer. I responded. “Well, I have a few talents. Big team player, great communicator…but I am just really good at watching Netflix. I’m so good at things.”

Joking…..I know that watching Netflix doesn’t involve skills but whatever…I like to think that when I have finished binge watching 5 episodes of Shameless in a row and am trying to justify my lack of productivity.

No matter how long I watch a show, I can always seem to find a way to justify it. I either had a long day at work, am feeling tired or sick, or I just finished a test that I had studied hard for….I can easily make up excuses for my excessive Netflix habit. But theres one thing that I can’t make an excuse for…and thats the passive racism contained in almost every TV show series or movie that I watch.

 

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Ok, so maybe I need to take a step back and explain myself. The statement, “Theres racism in Hollywood” seems a bit strange, right? Isn’t Hollywood one of the most progressively minded areas in the United States? On paper, yes.  But if you take a deeper looking into the film industry, this is simply not the case. Just look at any major television show or movie that comes out of Hollywood. The main character is almost always the same. The main character is white.

Finding the truth

As a student studying Journalism, I am extremely interested in finding the truth. I want to make ideas heard. As a white male myself, I never really noticed how the majority of main characters are….. well….white males, just like me! Additionally, I think that the fact that white males and white people in general have dominated the film industry in the United States has conditioned many people to believe that it is the norm. It shouldn’t be.

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Movies aren’t real, right?

We all remember being little kids and watching our first horror movie only to run to the mom-jean clad legs of our mothers and hear from them that “movies aren’t real”. Indeed they aren’t. Movies do not reflect reality, and the representation of race is no exception.

The last 3 films I have watched were on Netflix. They were the television shows “Shameless”, “New Girl”, and the movie “Bad Boys 2”. None had Asian characters.

 

While Bad Boys 2 has two main characters played by black actors Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, and New Girl has a black side-character…none of them even have a person of Asian decent in the movie. Like…there aren’t ANY characters that are Asian. Its just weird and strange.

And if there are Asians in a given movie, its nothing exciting or new. They’re either a nerd, a boring extra, or they’re an old businessman from Japan. They are just a stereotype thrown into a production for the audiences’ entertainment.

 

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When I can actually think of movies where there is an Asian as the main character, the only movies that I can think of are the Jackie Chan series…and all these movies are tied closely to martial arts. Its almost as if Asian culture is valued solely for its fighting.

Because Asian characters are so often just used as props for martial arts, they usually have little to no character development.There is no sense of depth to the character. Again, simply look at a movie with Jackie Chan in it. Sure he might play different roles in various movies, but he is more or less the same character. His personality is not shown.

 

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The Cultural Effect

The effects of seeing Asian actors in stereotypical roles with little to no character development undoubtedly causes American society to view Asians in a very shallow way. They are seen as quiet, distant, and kinda awkward. I wouldn’t be surprised if this may have negative effects on how Asian Americans view themselves in the scope of their ethnicity. When they were growing up, why did none of the superheroes look like them? Why were they always wearing glasses? Why were the only athletic Asian characters explicitly martial arts gurus?

 

The list could go on…I will leave it at that…For now.

 

 

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